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Jones: Comcast’s NFL Network Deal Expires In 18 Months

The NFL Network will only have to blitz Comcast Corp. for basic-tier carriage under its current deal for another 18 months before the pact expires, according to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Jones, who is serving as chairman of the NFL Network committee, told Multichannel News the deal for pro football’s in-house network with Comcast only runs through mid-2009. That gives NFL Network 18 months to try to persuade the nation’s largest cable operator to move the service, whose calling card is a late-season package of eight NFL primetime games, back to a basic tier.

In May a New York Supreme Court judge issued a summary judgment that allowed Comcast to migrate the NFL Network to a dedicated sports tier. The judgment followed the NFL Network filing a lawsuit against the operator in late 2006 for placing it on a sports tier in Time Warner systems it had received through the cable companies’ $17.6 billion joint purchase of Adelphia Communications in July of that year. 

“We really do disagree with the initial ruling that they could tier the network,” said Jones. “We of course are appealing that decision, but one way or another that will be behind us in 18 months.”

Comcast Cable executives would not comment on the matter.

Jones's franchise is scheduled to make two appearanes on NFL Network this season: hosting a Nov. 29 matchup against Brett Favre's Green Bay Packers and visiting the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 22.

For the complete interview with Jones, see the author's blog posting.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.